Historic Local Election – No Television Coverage

In Chesapeake, VA on May 1,2018 there is a historic local election due to the unusual number of seats open.   Seven out of nine city council seats are on the ballot, including Mayor.  Five out of the nine school board seats are also on the ballot.

Sixteen out of eighteen seats for School Board/ City Council and Mayor are currently held by Republicans and they have a candidate for every seat open.  The Democrats are lacking in candidates have endorsed several Independent candidates.

The Mayor of Chesapeake has an annual salary of $25,000, yet the current incumbent Mayor Rick West has raised over $100,000 towards his campaign including late last minute donations from developers.  His sole opponent, Jo Anne Gallant has entirely self funded her campaign out of principle with a budget of approximately $2,000.

Holding a second election in May costs the city a considerable amount of money.  The candidates were told that this is so that they are not competing for coverage with our state and national elections.

The local television stations have not covered any angle of our local elections to date.

The below email has been sent to

We, the citizens of Chesapeake, expect our television stations to cover real news.

We have been told that our city elections are held in May so that they are not competing for coverage with our state and national elections. However, we have not seen any information broadcast to remind voters of this critical election on May 1, 2018.

This is a historic election because seven out of our nine city council seats are on the ballot, including Mayor. Five out of the nine school board seats are also on the ballot and many citizens are concerned about important issues involving our schools and local government.

There is a misconception that these elections are primary elections and that the actual voting will be in November. This results in extraordinary low voter turn out.

Amazing candidates have stepped up to serve this city and put their names on the ballot. We expect our news stations to cover this election in a fair and objective manner and start reminding our citizens to vote on May 1, 2018.

Chesapeake will be the city that becomes the role model for all other cities to bring integrity back to our local government.

Thank you.

Jo Anne Gallant

Are Our Tax Dollars Being Used Wisely in Chesapeake, VA?

Understanding Operating Budget VS Capital Improvement Budget

It is important to understand that both the City of Chesapeake and Chesapeake Public Schools have both an operating budget and a capital improvement budget.

The operating budget plans for costs such as staff to provide city services, supplies, facility maintenance, and day to day operating expenses.  The capital improvement budget funds new construction or major improvements to city facilities and infrastructure including roads and buildings.

This one minute video may help explain it better, however the time line he mentions is not accurate for Chesapeake as we review the budget annually and making adjustments to project for the next five years.

Recent Proposed Changes Show Decreases in Public School and Public Safety

In my years as a property manager for government subsidized properties, I was responsible for both the operating and capital improvement budgets.  I had to make difficult choices on how to allot funding, where we could save money and hiring the best vendors to ensure quality of work. I learned quickly how small numbers often added up when factoring in volume, such as selecting something as simple as a vendor to supply the volumes paper needed.

The recent proposed changes to the Chesapeake’s capital improvement plan shows our tax dollars being shifted around in a manner that I am personally concerned about.

You can view the full details on the City of Chesapeake’s website or by clicking here 

The proposed changes to the capital improvement budget show a DECREASE in the following areas:
DECREASED Budget to Public Schools from 29% to 23%
DECREASED  Budget to Public Safety from 8% to 4%
DECREASED Budget for Economic Development from 8% to 1%

 

There is an INCREASE  proposed to the following areas:
INCREASED Budget to Parks & Recreation from 7% to 11%
INCREASED Budget for Transportation from 10% to 25%

 

Click here for a summary version of Capital Improvement Plan 2018-2023.

 

This prioritizes our five year budget in the following manner:

$114.68 Million Transportation 
$111.41 Million Education
$42.12 Million Parks & Recreation
$20.94 Million Public Safety
$4.82 Million Economic Development

 

Our $42 Million Parks & Recreation Budget – City Council To Determine How Half Should Be Spent

While there are definitely many valuable projects being addressed, I was curious as to why we needed over $42 million for Parks and Recreation, yet Public Safety was not even budgeted half that amount.  I was concerned about the cuts to the public school budget and was under the impression that we were trying to foster economic development in Chesapeake, although it is certainly is not reflected that way in our budget.   I asked this question at the Town Mall meeting held at Hugo A. Owens middle school on February 6, 2018.

I received an email from the city with the following answer:

“You also mentioned that a disproportionate portion of the Capital Improvement Plan CIP was allocated to Parks, Recreation, and Tourism (PRT).  The CIP includes $42.1 million for parks (8.5% of the total) over the next five years as follow:

·         Nearly half ($23.6 million) is for park expansions and major improvements. COUNCIL WILL DETERMINE HOW THESE FUNDS ARE SPENT; there is strong demand for expansion of Oak Grove Park, athletic fields at Centerville Park, and enlarged community centers.

·         $4.3 million is available for park improvements to meet increased recreational demands related to new developments.  This project is entirely financed from developer fees paid to the city when amenities are not included in residential developments.

·         $5.0 million of debt financing for improvements to Northwest River Park.  Northwest was developed in the 1970s and there have been few improvements to the original structures and facilities.  Most of the buildings and structures need to be replaced; the city plans to spend $1.0 million annually over the next six years.

·         $1.5 million for renovations to the Chesapeake Conference Center.  This facility is over twenty (20) years old and improvements are required to replacing aging mechanical systems and to ensure the facility is appealing to users.  Funding is provided from taxes that Council dedicated to economic development and visitor facilities.

·         $1.0 million for Chesapeake Arboretum

·         $800,000 for renovation of the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail – this heavily used bicycle trail requires periodic paving; none has been done since before the former roadway was converted to a recreational facility.  Paving is necessary to prevent the trail from further degradation.

·         $5.9 million is planned to address deferred maintenance at parks and community centers.  These funds are used to refresh community centers, replace athletic field lights, improve parks and athletic fields, and improve accessibility to disabled residents. “

 

Personally I am concerned about why $23 million has been pulled from our schools, public safety and economic development budget with just a vague answer that city “Council will determine how these funds are spent.”

We have parents and businesses raising funds to ensure the safety and security of our schools.  

Does it cost $1 million dollars to fix 11 wooden bridges at the Chesapeake Arboretum?  

Is this the best use of our tax dollars?  I don’t think so.

Stormwater Money Going Down the Drain

Also of note is the fact that our Stormwater budget is considered an enterprise fund meaning that it generates it’s own revenue.   There is over $25 million in the five year Stormwater budget and as Jennifer Barnes, who is running for city council,  so eloquently put it “Our drainage ditches should be made out of GOLD!”

Jennifer Barnes also had a recent conversation with our city manager regarding our city’s flooding issues.  She discovered that the city has  a brand new ditch digger that we have owned for two years, yet it has never been used.   She was informed that we do not have a driver for it ?!?

Your Vote on May 1, 2018 Matters

It is an unusual year for city elections this spring because 7 out of the 9 city council seats are available including the Mayor. With the majority of seats available, it is a rare opportunity to change the direction the city is heading in.   The Mayor and one of the City Council Seats are considered a special election on the ballot and are actually only 2 years terms.  This is because they backfilling the vacancy created when Mayor Krasnoff moved to Clerk of Court position in November and Dwight Parker was temporarily appointed as a city council member.

I encourage you to research your candidates and vote for city council members and a Mayor who share your values and views on what the city’s priorities should be.  I believe my experience in analyzing both operating and capital improvement budgets is extremely valuable in ensuring that our money is spent wisely.  My industry knowledge as an appraiser has demonstrated the damaged caused by new development will be helpful in preventing similar problems in the future.  If you agree, we need your help by sharing this information and encouraging friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to vote on May 1, 2018.

 Jo Anne Gallant  – “Mom For Mayor”

David Schleeper  – “Schleeper is a Keeper” – Two Year City Council Candidate

Jennifer Barnes – “Barnes is Better” – City Council

Mary Lou Burker – “Mary Lou for You” – City Council

Damage Development Caused to Existing Neighborhoods in Chesapeake

This information was given to city council at the September 19, 2017 meeting.  It reflects my concerns on the impact that rapid development has had in Chesapeake on existing neighborhoods and sites specific examples that I compiled in my research. It is essentially the speech that resulted in people approaching me and asking me to run for Mayor.

Dear City Council Members:

Why the Next Great American Cities Aren’t What You Think

I encourage you to Google and read some of Joel Kotkins articles.  He is a Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, CA and executive director of the Houston based Center for Opportunity Urbanism.

In particular his article entitled Houston Rising – Why the Next Great American Cities Aren’t What You Think. “America’s urban landscape is changing, but in ways not always predicted or much admired by our media, planners, and pundits.”

“There’s a whole industry led by the likes of Harvard’s Ed Glaeser, my occasional sparring partner Richard Florida and developer-funded groups like CEOs for Cities, who advocate for old-style, high-density cities, and insist that they represent the inevitable future.”

“But the numbers tell a different story: the most rapid urban growth is occurring outside of the great, dense, highly developed and vastly expensive old American metropolises.” These highly densely populated developments are out dated models from when the majority of the population did not have vehicles.

When buyers were polled in recent survey published by Wakefield Research as to whether they wanted a bigger house or a bigger yard, the answer was a bigger yard. “Larger yard space means extra “breathing room” from neighbors –  say is the most important exterior feature of a home, beating other outdoor elements such as siding, driveway style, exterior paint color and roofing finish.”

“The growth in STEM—or science-technology-engineering and mathematics-related—employment in Houston, Raleigh, Nashville, Austin, and Las Vegas surpassed that in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, or New York. One reason: most STEM jobs are not found in fashionable fields like designing social media or videogames but in more prosaic activities tied to medicine, manufacturing, agriculture and (horror of horrors) natural resource extraction, including fossil fuel energy. “

“Finally, they will not become highly dense, apartment cities — as developers and planners insist they “should.” Instead the aspirational regions are likely to remain dominated by a suburbanized form characterized by car dependency, dispersion of job centers, and single-family homes.”

Chesapeake has LAND!  We need to understand our market and what drives our growth.  We need to spread out and develop responsibly!  We only have one chance to do this right!

Dominion Corridor Study

I keep being told that The Confluence Project is in line with the Dominion Corridor Study goals. First there is an interesting quote about New Home Sales on page 23 that states “New home sales as a percentage of total sales has steadily declined since 2004 from 34% to 15%.” I am confused as to why we are approving and building so many developments then?

What I am really concerned about is that out of this 336 page report there is just one quote that discusses the foreclosures in our market. It is mentioned on page 22 and then again in exact verbatim again on page 156.
“The for-sale residential market is slowly recovering from the Great Recession. Home prices are up and inventory is down. The Hampton Roads region still has a large number of foreclosures to work through the system. However, all indicators point to a continued recovery, and long-term health in the for-sale market. For-sale housing also represents a strong short-term opportunity in the study area.”

I am deeply concerned about the inaccuracy of that statement from my perspective as an active participant in Chesapeake’s real estate market.

At the last meeting, I mentioned how we have FAILED 31 out of 200 home owners in Olde Mille Run due to numerous short sales and foreclosures in that neighborhood. Perhaps you are unaware of the short sales and foreclosures happening in Culpepper Landing?

Are you aware that 512 Robert Frost Road, which was the former MODEL HOME of our local Tidewater Builder Vintage Homes became a BANK OWNED FORECLOSURE?

Are you aware of the short sales and foreclosures in New Mill Landing, Dominion Lakes and Dominion Forest caused by the Veteran’s Bridge inadvertently becoming part of their view?

 

Berkshire Estates

Berkshire Estates is located off of Hanbury Road in Chesapeake near Great Bridge High School.  The earlier homes in the neighborhood were built in 1997. The later part of the neighborhood called Berkshire Forest was mostly completed by 2005.  These are larger brick homes ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 SF.

 

It was a highly desirable neighborhood that continued to grow and increase in value until 2015. In 2015, three separate developments began construction sales and literally surround this neighborhood. The lots of the new construction communities of Hanbury Woods, Hanbury Manor, and Viridian Reserve abutted directly up to the property lines of the existing homes of Berkshire Estates destroying the sense of privacy these high-end homes once enjoyed.

 

Berkshire Estates Foreclosures

This picture is just part of the view from a once private backyard in Berkshire Estates.

I recently showed a few houses on Kingsbury Drive in this neighborhood and was honestly shocked about how many houses I could see standing the deck in the backyard. From one spot, I turned my head left to right and started counting houses. In a backyard that was once private and highly desirable, I counted 20 homes in my immediate view from one spot.

Berkshire Estates is a neighborhood that even handled the Hampton Road recession time period extremely well.  There was one foreclosure in 2008, one foreclosure in 2009, one foreclosure in 2010, zero foreclosures in 2011, two foreclosures in 2012, zero foreclosures in 2013 and zero foreclosures in 2014.

However, in 2015 the property values were literally destroyed due to the extremely close proximity of the new construction homes.  There were three foreclosures in 2015 and one in 2016.  Properties that were assessed at $473,000 sold as low as $354,000, which is $119,000 below assessed value.

Since 2015, there are notes on the listings offering bonuses to agents who can bring a buyer for these houses.  There are notes about selling the property below assessed value and what a deal it is.  There are multiple cases of houses that are listed expire or are withdrawn and relisted under a new MLS number making it difficult to determine exactly how long these homes have been on the market.  The average listing time on the market in Chesapeake has been between 61 – 64 days this summer.

I started to try and look through these listings to find the duplicate address to really determine how long these properties have been on the market because I genuinely thought that city council was unaware of the issue, but I think I was naïve in my thoughts.  I do see that Vice Mayor West and his partner Paul Fuqua are aware of this issue as they have tried to list 1201 Kingbury Dr from October of 2014 through October of 2016.  If it is taking over two years or 725 days to market these homes and they are still not selling, I think there is a major issue in how this city is approving developments.

 

 

 

 

Best Christmas Lights in Chesapeake, VA

Best Christmas Lights in Chesapeake, VA

TEXT AND GO!

Text Home6265 to 88000 

A Google Map with driving directions will be sent to your phone.

 

Sponsored by Jo Anne Gallant – Realtor & Licensed Appraiser

When it is time to buy or SellMyHouseinChesapeake.com  call Jo Anne at 757-995-6209.

 

We have some wonderful people here in Chesapeake who work extremely hard at spreading the joy of the holiday season by decorating their homes with AMAZING light displays.  Take a moment to slow down and enjoy a simple drive with the family to see these personal festival of lights.  They are Chesapeake’s own  Wizards in Winter!

 

1337 Simon Dr. Chesapeake, VA 23320

 

Holt Family Lights – New Location

705 Tallahassee Dr. Chesapeake, VA 23322

https://www.facebook.com/holtfamilylights/

The characters will be out December 16th & December 23, 2017.  This is one of the best of the best!

 

820 Sydenham Blvd. Chesapeake, VA 23322

https://www.facebook.com/Priest-Family-Christmas-517913618226527/

 

912 Hawley Ct Chesapeake, VA 23322

 

913 Pleasant Ridge Dr. Chesapeake, VA 23322

https://www.facebook.com/PiazzaXmasLights/

 

357 Wisdom Path Chesapeake, VA 23322

 

703 Ava Ct, Chesapeake VA 23322

https://www.facebook.com/sheelylights/

 

905 Deer Crossing, Chesapeake, VA 23323

https://www.facebook.com/scrogginsfamilychristmas/

 

3316 Dietz Dr. Chesapeake, VA 23323

https://www.facebook.com/Matsonlightshow/

 

4028 Woodland Drive, Chesapeake, VA 23321

https://www.facebook.com/groups/113087258864373/

This is an extraordinary experience where you can park and walk around this amazing yard!

Santa will be there December 15, 2017 from 5:30 to 8 PM.  Lights go off around 10 PM.

They collect food and monetary donations for the Portsmouth Humane Society and accept dog food or cat food.

 

The Pugh Family

902 Heydon Court Chesapeake, VA 23322

https://www.facebook.com/PughFamilyChristmasLightShow/

 

TEXT AND GO!

Text Home6265 to 88000 

A Google Map with driving directions will be sent to your phone.

 

Sponsored by Jo Anne Gallant

Circle of Excellence Realtor & Licensed Appraiser

When it is time to buy or SellMyHouseinChesapeake.com  call Jo Anne at 757-995-6209.

 

Jo Anne Gallant

Realtor & Licensed Appraiser

The Real Estate Group

1112F  Eden Way N

Chesapeake, VA 23320